October 3, 2023
foreign born immigrants in Florida

At Miami International Airport

foreign born immigrants in Florida
Foreign-born residents comprise 20% of the state's total population.
foreign born immigrants in Florida

Haitian sisters in Immokalee

Photo: Brian Tietz

foreign born immigrants in Florida
College students
foreign born immigrants in Florida

As many as 40,000 Puerto Ricans came to Florida after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Photo: Norma Lopez Molina

Florida's Changing Population

Foreign immigration in Florida

Mike Vogel | 9/27/2018

Half of Net Growth

Earlier in the decade, when Florida was still affected by the recession, foreign migration accounted for more than 60% of Florida’s overall population growth. For the last couple of years, foreign immigrants have accounted for about half of Florida’s population growth — and will continue to account for about 50% of population growth in the coming years, says Richard Doty, a research demographer with the UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Foreign-Born Floridians

Estimated annual migration flows 2010-14, including both documented and undocumented immigrants

  1. Cuba 22,737
  2. Canada 19,613
  3. Haiti 7,937
  4. Mexico 7,211
  5. Brazil 6,684
  6. Colombia 6,514
  7. Jamaica 6,248
  8. India 6,057
  9. Dominican Rep. 4,923
  10. China 4,812

Source: UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research

Florida’s Foreign-Born Population

At 3.96 million, foreign-born residents comprise about 20% of the state’s total population. In Miami-Dade, more than 60% of the population is foreign-born.

  • 53% of the foreign-born are male, 47% are female.
  • About 36% of the foreign-born are 55 or older.
  • 57% of the foreign-born are Hispanic.

Immigrants in the Workforce

  • Compared to their presence in the general population, immigrants are overrepresented in the state’s workforce:
    • 21% — Share of Florida’s population who are immigrants
    • 26% — Share of Florida’s workers who are immigrants
  • In Florida, foreign-born residents make up more than 30% of workers employed in natural resources (which includes agriculture), construction and maintenance occupations; service occupations; and production, transportation and material moving.
  • In Florida, 50% of adult immigrants have some college, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, compared to about 55% for the state overall.

Foreign Students in Florida

The federal Optional Practical Training program allows foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges to work temporarily in the United States. According to Pew Research, from 2004-16 Florida had four metros with at least 5,000 foreign graduates approved to participate in the OPT program — Southeast Florida (22,700), Tampa-St. Petersburg (7,800), Orlando (7,300) and Gainesville (5,900).

Most of the foreign students came from India, China and Venezuela. Nearly twothirds who studied in Florida got degrees in business, engineering or computerrelated fields. Three of the metro regions — Southeast Florida, Tampa Bay and Orlando — kept most of the foreign students studying there and attracted additional students. Most of the foreign students who came to Gainesville left to work in Silicon Valley, New York, Miami, Seattle and San Francisco.

Florida’s Cuban Population: Concentrated and Aging

Within the United States, the Cuban population is very highly concentrated, with 78% living in Florida in 2011-15. Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Palm Beach together accounted for about 68% of all Cuban immigrants in the United States. A large portion of the Cuban population is elderly: 28% of Cubans were 65 or older versus 15% of both the overall foreign- and native-born populations.

Florida’s Haitian Population: A Major Presence

Between 2011-15, two states were home to nearly 70% of Haitian immigrants: Florida and New York. Miami-Dade, Broward, Kings County, N.Y., and Palm Beach County together accounted for about 44% of the total Haitian population in the United States. Some 213,000 Haitians lived in the Miami-Palm Beach corridor. In 2015, 78% of Haitians ages 25 and over in the United States had a high school degree or higher. The share of Haitian immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 19%, compared to 29% of the total foreign-born population.

Florida’s Puerto Rican Population: A Trickle, Not a Flood

Ten months ago, Florida officials estimated that as many as 300,000 Puerto Ricans had come to Florida after Hurricane Maria’s hit on the island [“Influx: More Puerto Ricans are migrating to Florida,” FloridaTrend.com]. The influx of refugees — Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth and its citizens are U.S. citizens — suggested significant impacts on everything from schools to politics.

Turns out, the number is more like 40,000. Detailed analysis by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research found the number could be as low as 30,000 and as high as 50,000. Without a doubt, many have moved into Central Florida.

Some in the early estimates were passing through to other states, some returned home and some were simply aid workers, journalists and people on business returning to the mainland.

Regardless, the Maria-related influx continues an accelerating trend of Puerto Ricans leaving the island for the mainland. Florida has displaced New York as their primary destination. From 2005- 16, Florida captured a 29% share of the migration from Puerto Rico to the United States. New York, the second most popular destination, caught only 9.6%. Florida also has had a net gain in the movement of Puerto Ricans within the 50 states.

Top 10 Florida Counties for Puerto Rican Migration (2005-16)

  • Orange 61,819
  • Osceola 29,949
  • Hillsborough 23,739
  • Miami-Dade 19,876
  • Broward 15,040
  • Polk 12,258
  • Volusia 9,151
  • Palm Beach 8,616
  • Pinellas 6,634
  • Seminole 6,329

Source: UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research


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